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Agile lipstick is a term that refers to making superficial, bare minimum agile inspired changes to organisational processes.

Have you ever noticed how many people working in the agile domain are unhappy with their work situation?

Developers cursing agile asking why are we doing this, Testers not knowing exactly where they fit in, Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches who feeling jaded or burnt out and Product Owners who own the product by name only.

Project Management Offices (PMOs) still measuring time and budget, teams picking and choosing which practices they implement, more often than not resulting in just another form of micromanagement.

Many Organisations are just applying Agile Lipstick i.e. making superficial or cosmetic changes in a futile attempt to disguise the true nature of the challenges their Organisation face.

Here are some signs that you’re really just applying Agile Lipstick;

  • Too many badly run meetings. Organisations that truly embrace faster value delivery, realise that in order to do so, the number of meetings held has to be drastically reduced.
  • Silos still exist between teams based on roles and teams i.e. business and IT roles and application, infrastructure and security teams.
  • Poor performance and bad behaviour are tolerated. Sending poor performers on a Scrum training course, changing their KPIs or making them part of a ‘Working Group’ won’t work. Get to the root cause of their issues by using empathy and active listening.
  • Spending more time talking to internal stakeholders than customers means you’re not making data-driven decisions based on what users actually want.
  • No time for innovation. An emergent process is one that requires time, a mindset that constantly asks the question, ‘Could I/we do this differently?’ and a culture that supports courageous action.

There are many other signs that you’re just applying Agile Lipstick, the above are just a few to get you thinking about whether you’re really just putting ‘lipstick on a pig’.